Detailed Plans To Balance Budget ‘Not Fully Developed’ Says Council’s Auditors
The Council still doesn’t have detailed plans in place to save over £670,000 – the amount required to balance this year’s budget.
These are the findings of the authority’s auditors from Grant Thornton, whose report was presented to yesterday’s Special Full Council meeting.
The savings were agreed by councillors back in March and included plans to cut £120,000 off the salary budget by reducing the number of senior managers and moving the Council’s One Stop Shop to the library, saving a further £25,000.
Officers also estimated that £50,000 could come from tendering out the ‘Active Scilly’ service, which covers the sports hall, gym and swimming pool.
But with almost half the financial year already gone, the auditors say that, “although headline savings plans are in place our work identified that the detail behind these plans are not fully developed.”
In particular, they’ve highlighted the Council’s own assessment that £200,000 of those savings will be “difficult to achieve” and will have an impact on cash reserves.
And the auditors warn, “there is a risk that depleting resources further could impact on the efficient running of the Council and delivery of core services.
“We concluded that there were weaknesses in the Councils arrangements for planning finances to support the sustainable delivery of strategic priorities and maintain statutory functions.”
The auditors’ findings – particularly a number of errors in the Council’s financial statements for 2015/16 – support previous internal and external reports that say that the authority’s overall control environment in finance is poor.
The Auditors’ Report is still awaiting sign off because further supporting evidence was required from the Council’s finance department.
This, the auditors conclude, was due to a lack of resource through staff vacancies and sickness. It resulted in the audit being suspended to give the finance team time to resolve issues and will result in an additional cost to the Council.
We contacted the Council Chairman, Cllr Amanda Martin, to comment on the findings of the auditors.
She declined, saying: “Once the draft Audit Report for 2015/16 has been finalised and debated at a Full Council meeting I shall be available for comment via the Press Office of the Council of the Isles of Scilly.”